And so what we may now see is a two tiered attack. First there may be a relentless focus on the stuff about Trump that voters are currently prepared to accept: His sexism, xenophobia, bigotry, and unfitness to serve as president. This could energize core Dem voting groups (nonwhites, young voters, socially liberal college-educated whites), and perhaps sow further doubts about his temperament with swing voting constituencies (particularly suburban, independent, blue collar, and moderate college-educated women). There may also be an all out assault on the seamy underside of his business record, as is reportedly being worked up.
The question will then be whether all of this — particularly the attack on his business dealings — will lay the groundwork for a successful prosecution of Trump’s economic agenda and worldview. Trump has a very simple economic message: The elites have screwed you with trade deals that have sucked jobs out of the country. He’d bring them roaring back by kicking the asses of other countries, international bureaucrats and elites, CEOs who ship jobs overseas, and immigrants who are eating out of American workers’ lunch buckets.
If this focus grouping is right, the challenge for Democrats, in addition to cranking up core Dem groups, will be to persuade swing voters not just that Trump is wholly unfit for the job, but that he’s also running a massive economic con. Will savaging his temperament and business dealings successfully prime those voters to accept this argument?
Maybe. If that isn’t enough, the Clinton campaign might have to do better at making a broad, affirmative argument on behalf ofher economic agenda, one that tries to directly rebut the appeal of the story Trump is telling about the economy. Fortunately, all signs are Democrats are already thinking hard about how to do that, too.
It's a good plan. There are a lot of folks that say that Trump's obvious and obnoxious racism/misogyny designed as "nationalism" should easily break him in the general, but frankly there are millions of people who will delude themselves into thinking Trump is putting on an act, and that the real deal is "sticking it to that Clinton bitch." It's those folks that the Dems want to go after by saying the Don Man is a con man. "You don't like her, fine...but this guy is playing you for a fool."
It's that last part, making that "broad, affirmative argument" on the Clinton economic plan that will be needed to turn those folks from "Why bother voting" into "I guess I'll give her a chance." That's going to be a lot, lot harder.
I am glad however that the Dems are taking Trump's threat seriously. He's not going to win, but it doesn't mean that the people who voted for him are going to magically go away and start loving the Dems, either. Trump, as I've said multiple times here, may be the largest boil needing a good lancing on the ass of the body politic, but the infection itself is what needs to be treated.
That starts with giving people reasons to vote for progressive policies and not just against the GOP con game.